Thai Grilled Pork Skewers (Moo Ping)

Pork Skewers:
1 pound pork shoulder or loin
1 Tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 Tablespoon minced cilantro root (or stems if root is not available)
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk, for basting
20 small bamboo skewers

Jaew Dipping Sauce:
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
teaspoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 Tablespoon toasted rice powder
1 Tablespoon water

To Make the Grilled Pork Skewers:
Prepare the cilantro roots by soaking them in water, scraping the skin off, and finely mincing them. Peel the garlic cloves. Combine the prepared garlic, cilantro roots, and whole white peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and pound until a paste is formed.

Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, and dark soy sauce, and palm sugar to the cilantro-garlic-peppercorn paste and mix until all ingredients are combined.

Cut the pork shoulder or loin into small, approximately 1/2 inch pieces. Place the pork into a container and rub the marinade paste into it. Cover, refrigerate, and allow it to marinate for at least 2 hours.

While the pork marinates, soak the bamboo skewers in water. They should soak for at least 30 minutes before grilling. When the pork has marinated, thread the pork pieces tightly onto the skewers, approximately four to six pieces per skewer. Coat the skewers with any remaining marinade paste.

Heat the grill to low or medium low heat. Place the skewers on the grill and allow them to cook slowly until cooked through, turning and basting them periodically with coconut milk. If grilling pork shoulder, this may take 15-20 minutes. For pork loin, it will take slightly less time.

To Make the Jaew Dipping Sauce:

Prepare the tamarind paste by mixing 1/4 cup wet tamarind block with 1/2 cup water. Mash with your fingers until a thick paste is formed, then strain to remove the seeds and veins.

Prepare the toasted rice powder by slowly toasting 1/4-1/2 cup of Thai sticky rice over low heat until it is rich, golden brown in color and has a toasted aroma. Grind into a powder using a mortar and pestle or coffee/spice grinder.

Slice the shallots into small, thin pieces and coarsely chop the cilantro.

Mix the tamarind paste, water, fish sauce, and palm sugar in a bowl. Continue mixing until the palm sugar is completely incorporated into the liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust the flavors according to your preferences. The primary flavors should be sour, spicy, and salty.

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